Uterine hypoplasia - how you can overcome this condition when trying for a baby
PUBLISHED: 00:00 31 October 2018
Undiagnosed challenges could have destroyed Jen and Connor's dreams for a baby, until Professor Luciano Nardo of Reproductive Health Group stepped in
As far as Jen O’Beirne and her husband Connor knew, there was no reason that, through the science of IVF, Jen couldn’t carry a baby to full term and make their lives complete. Having undertaken much research, Connor and Jen chose Reproductive Health Group (RHG) in Daresbury - and it proved to be the most serendipitous of decisions.
‘When I went for all the checks, there was nothing in my medical history that suggested that I would be unable to carry a child,’ says Jen. ‘As far as we knew, and the doctors all believed, there was no reason why IVF shouldn’t be the answer to our desire to have a baby of our own.
‘It wasn’t until it came time to transfer an embryo that anybody realised that we might have a problem.’
Transfer of an embryo created by in vitro fertilisation is a process carried out every day in clinics across the UK and the world. In the case of a healthy mother, it’s a straightforward, if delicate, operation. It’s more commonly after this stage that any problems occur. In Jen’s case, it turned out not to be at all straightforward.
‘Our first attempt at implantation failed,’ Jen explains, ‘they just couldn’t transfer the embryo to my uterus. It was very upsetting. Immediately however Luciano stepped in to investigate and discovered that I had a hypoplastic uterus, which can actually mean a lot of things physiologically, but in my case what it meant was that getting pregnant and carrying the baby to full term was going to be extremely difficult. It’s a rare condition that goes undiagnosed in many women and is associated with high chance of miscarriage, very early premature delivery and growth problems in the unborn baby.
‘Luciano was brilliant, he just said: “it doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen, we’ve just got to go down a different path.” He brought in Dr Chan, a consultant obstetrician with both RHG and St. Mary’s who sat with us for ages and explained the condition and what it all meant. Luciano undertok the embryo transfer procedure himself after preparing my uterus with high dose hormones. The first transfer undertaken after my diagnosis and treatment worked and I was then sent on to Dr Clare Mullan at St. Mary’s. We managed to go to full term before delivering our gorgeous baby boy, Ruairi.’
Jen and Connor say that it was the care and attention they received from Professor Nardo and RHG that led to this happiest of outcomes.
‘RHG were just amazing,’ says Jen. ‘We felt like everyone there just knew us, from reception through to the nurses, the ultrasound team and all the doctors – they were all invested in us. Luciano was so keen to make sure that we had answers to all our questions, he always had time for us – within and out of working hours.
‘When you’re first told you have this condition and so at increased risk of having a miscarriage in the second trimester, it’s frightening. Luciano and everybody at RHG really helped us; we just felt that everyone was on our side. It was a difficult thing to deal with, but their commitment and knowledge and care helped us to carry on.’
Connor adds: ‘Often there are physical symptoms of this condition, but Jen had none of them, so everybody at RHG had expected a straightforward process – but the moment it became apparent that it wasn’t, it was like Thunderbirds are go! We were wrapped in a blanket of care and of expertise from the moment we started the whole process and now, well, now we have Ruairi!’